The trouble with AMS

A story of the difficulties sometimes at the local Aboriginal Community Health Service

I have trouble maintaining my medication regime at (Local Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Medical Service). I go to the service, my whole family goes and it annoys me that I have to see a health worker, I tell him or her, what I am there for. If I wasn’t sick I wouldn’t be there so why do I need to see the bouncer of the AMS. I then go back to the waiting room and wait for my name to be called to see the doctor. My name gets called and I don’t see the doctor, I have to explain to the nurse why I am there and she takes my blood pressure we talk about that and when she has finished I don’t go into the doctor, I get sent back to the waiting room. After another wait, my name is called again and I finally see a doctor. But It’s not the same doctor I saw last time I was there and I have to tell him what I have already told the health worker and the nurse. I ask for a refill of my medication, should be easy, but it’s not this bloke needs me to give him my entire history, I dutifully submit to him taking my blood pressure, checking me over and asking me again why I need the (list of medications).

I explain again I tell him to look at my record and see that I have been on ….. for a while now as I have had a lump removed my breast recently and that I also need the (pain relief) for the pain I am in. I added to my list of refills some … for the nausea. He then calls in the nurse and asks her, right in front of me, if I have been receiving treatment for breast cancer, the nurse assured him that I have and that I have had one  removed and a biopsy on the other, followed by a removal of a lump.  Then he gives me the prescriptions I needed and I went home, annoyed that I had to have a nurse verify my story.

A few days later I had to go back to the AMS for ….(pain killers) as the doctor had only given me a prescription for a few days worth. I had to see the Health Worker, then the nurse and then the doctor, of course it was a different doctor and I had to go through my history again. I asked him, why he needed me to explain and why he couldn’t look up my record, he said that all doctors have their own records. So why can’t the nurse give information to the doctor? Why do I everytime I go to the doctor tell my history and why I am there to three different people, surely this is a waste of time and makes a visit to the doctor a lot longer than it should be? Painkiller prescription in hand I left, just so I could do it again in another couple of days.

The next week, I go back to the AMS, this time I didn’t tell the health worker why I was there, I told the nurse that I needed pain relief and could she tell the doctor all my history as I never have the same doctor. I went into the room to see the doctor expecting it to be easier, surely the nurse told him. Instead I had a third doctor that I had to explain to him my history. He didn’t call in the nurse to verify my story. This doctor decided that I had some problems, one of them being an addiction to painkillers. I was concerned when he talked about my dependency on them and that he wasn’t going to give me a prescription for …painkillers. I went home and worried about how easy it was to bcome addicted like the doctor had said, I was worried that he was right, maybe I had become dependent on them. I suffered pain, but didn’t take anything stronger than tablets you can get at the pharmacy. I had pain that …. and …. wouldn’t relieve.

Luckily, I had a check up at the hospital not long after and I was asked about what I was taking for the pain, and I told the hospital doctor what I had been taking. He was amazed and said you must be one tough old bird to be only on paracetamol. After explaining what the third doctor at the AMS said, he scoffed and said nonsense, I needed the painkiller for a few weeks because of the surgery. I was grateful that he organised for me to have a prescription that was for more than a few days.

This isn’t stand alone incident, I have had problems before at the AMS because I never see the same doctor, it’s always different doctors and you can’t request to see the same doctor, you have to see whoever is on duty at the time. This isn’t good service. I have had problems trying to see a female doctor. Family also complain of the same problems, because you never see the same doctor you have to tell them all the time. I have a niece who feels shame when she has to go for ongoing personal-body problems, she has one doctor give her one medication and another doctor give her a different diagnosis and different medications.

What I want to know is why do we have to be treated like third rate people in our own services

About proudblacksista

An Aboriginal woman. mother of 4 diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour 7 years ago.I want to share my story to help others. I am working to help other Aboriginal people face the battles of Cancer. Email me with your stories or concerns at View all posts by proudblacksista

2 responses to “The trouble with AMS

  • beautifulbougs

    oh my goodness, this is so very unreasonable. I wonder if you can talk to the Medical Director, or the Chief Executive Officer or even the chairperson of the board. What a waste of the patients time, the health workers time, the nurses time and the doctors time. The patient records should be available for all doctors to view so there is continuity of care.
    Everyone’s time is valuable and people being responsible and caring for their health should not be penalised by this waste. There is so much work to do that we cannot afford this waste.

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